Jimmy Walkout – After fighters like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Tyson, and Golovkin are done with their fights and the PPV feed cuts off, it’s showtime for the Jimmy Walkouts to do their thing.
Jimmy Walkout isn’t his real name but it doesn’t matter because even the newspaper writers got his name wrong. The following day write-ups, or the magazine ring reports that came out two months later, always left out a letter or two. When they bothered to even cover his bouts that is.
I knew a Jimmy Walkout. Just about all of Jimmy’s fights took place after the main events. The walkout bouts. By then the reporters were heading to the post-fight conference or the dressing rooms to interview the main event fighters. All that was left in the crowd when Jimmy fought were a few friends, the commissioner with the lowest seniority, and the crew ready to disassemble the ring and lights.
I carried the bucket for Jimmy Walkout’s tenth fight. That was the night he fought practically in the dark. In the dressing room before he walked out, one of his trainers – the one with the bad hairdo – lost Jimmy’s mouthpiece. He patted his back pockets then tried to put the blame on someone else. Like the time he tried to take credit for getting Rodrigo Valdez “ready for Bennie Briscoe,” no one bought it. Ten minutes later Jimmy made his way into the ring with no music and somebody else’s mouthpiece.
By then the work crew started tearing down part of the portable light and speaker systems. Jimmy shadowboxed in his corner while the crew tried to get the lights working again. Someone decided it was taking too long. So they boxed with half the ring in a shadow. When they lingered in that part too long, the ref would break them up and have them reset in the middle of the ring. In between rounds, Jimmy’s trainer, the one with the bad wig, kept telling him to “Fight like Duran!”
Poking Jimmy in his chest with his index finger, he asked repeatedly, “You want to win?” Jimmy nodded yes. “Then fight like Duran!”
When he came back to the corner after the round ended his trainer raised his hands, shook them angrily and said, “You’re not listening to me.”
Jimmy lost that night. Helping him out of the ring that night was a man with a monkey wrench in his back pocket. As soon as Jimmy and the rest of us walked down the wooden steps, the man and his wrench started taking down the ring. Jimmy’s record was about 2-8 with no knockouts. No one, not even Jimmy, knew that night would be his last fight. He spent the next year and a half in the gym waiting for a call that never came. “Shit, I think I’m retired,” he said one afternoon.
Fast-forward a few years and Jimmy Walkout has a business degree and a cushy office job working for the government. His co-workers were shocked when they found out Jimmy was a boxer. That was the day he hung a photo of a ripped him in a boxing pose. They were impressed. They asked his record but he told them he didn’t remember what it was. They seemed to understand. They started calling him champ and enjoyed asking about the places he travelled to. London. Germany. Miami. Vegas. The Kronk Gym.
“Who was the best you fought Jimmy?”
Jimmy dropped names.
Even hardcore boxing fans would’ve struggled to recognize a name or two. It didn’t matter. Jimmy kept spitting out the names. At one point one of the sporting “experts” in the office said, “Oh, him I heard of.”
Another guys says “Yeah, me too.”
Even Jimmy looked surprised. But he kept going. Then he started calling them by their nicknames. Tank. M80. Machine Gun. Mad Dog. A few amateur opponents made the list too.
Soon after some of them approached Jimmy and started asking for exercise tips and a list of foods that “boxers eat.” They asked him to recommend gyms and how to choose a good trainer. Pick someone with good hair he told them.
A few of them had him correct their fight stances. Jimmy had nearly half the office shadowboxing on their breaks. One evening after work, at one of those bars trying to pass off bad décor as ambiance, his co-workers started joking about anything and everything. Some of the jokes pushed the limits but never passed them. “I’m just playing,” they said to Jimmy. “Don’t get mad,” they added. “You can probably knock me out with one punch,” they joked. Jimmy laughs but didn’t say a word. Then he looked at me. We laughed harder than they did. It was a private joke. One they would never have understood. Because, like the reporters who ran to cover the press conferences, they weren’t there for any of Jimmy Walkout’s fights. Like that night when his trainers wrapped his right hand one way and his left another. And they weren’t there the night he was told to fight like Duran. Almost nobody was there that night when the lights went out.
Editor’s note: Jose Corpas’ book about Panama Al Brown, titled “BLACK INK: A Story of Boxing, Betrayal, Homophobia, and the First Latino Champion,” is available now.
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